COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all segments of the population and is proving detrimental to socio-economic construct. It continues to affect working and non-working populations, children, and students besides vulnerable populations. As the pandemic spreads, estimates from various studies point towards huge loss of jobs and livelihoods. A press release from ILO stated that COVID-19 will have a devastating impact on working hours and increasing unemployment. On the social front, social distancing (an important measure to stop the spread of virus) can also erode social cohesion and mutual support.To understand the socio-economic perceptions of the people in India, an online survey was rolled out during the first lockdown period between 5th to 30th April 2020. A set of questions was completed by 401 respondents across 25 states of India. Social media platforms (What’s app, Facebook, and Linked in) and email lists were utilized as data collection methods. To understand the socio-economic perceptions, univariate/bivariate analyses were carried out.
The findings have been categorized into social and economic themes. 4 in 10 respondents believed that their family life has improved during the pandemic. More than half of the respondents fear losing social contact due to the pandemic. Equal numbers of females and males also felt that there are increased chances of losing friends or loved ones. However, more than 60% agreed that there has been an increase in spending quality time with family and children. Nearly half of the respondents also felt that children’s education will be impacted in the academic year, with 4 in 10 respondents perceived that there has been an increase in their inputs and support for their children’s education. A total of one-third (33.5%) of the respondents felt that this pandemic will impact their/family’s income. 44.5% of respondents agreed that soon they might have to face salary deduction. Overall 55% of the respondents felt that they wouldn’t get any bonus or increment in the current financial year. 4 out of 10 (42.3%) respondents believed that the current situation will negatively influence their future income in terms of salary-cut with no/meager incentives. Close to 60% of the respondents, whether female/male feel that their future savings will be severely hit due to the pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic will also lead to an increase in non-repayment of the loan as reported by 50% of respondents. The pandemic has also aggravated the food crisis-availability and cost leading to increased household expenditure.
It is concluded that the world needs a new social order with a strengthened mechanism to develop resilience against such shocks. It is critical to building societies supported by a new policy framework with adequate resources for social security laying a foundation for long-term improvements in the social safety net and essential public services. This will help to overcome the loss of livelihoods and check any social unrest and conflict.